Saturday Baseball Action
Sunday, April 12, 2009

In Saturday Valley baseball action, Illinois State handed the Bears of Missouri State their first MVC loss of the season in the first game of a doubleheader in Normal, Ill.  The Redbirds used a walk-off single by Mike Stalowy in the bottom of the ninth to beat Missouri State, 8-7, while Missouri State's Buddy Baumann improved to a perfect 7-0 as the Bears rallied back to take game two, 8-5. 

Indiana State won its fifth-straight league game after handing Bradley two losses, taking down the Braves 9-5 in game one and again 10-2 in the nightcap.  The Sycamores have not won five consecutive Valley games since 2000.  UNI earned its first shutout win of the season in a 2-0 victory over Creighton, behind a career-high six strikeouts by Panther Derek Ott.  Wichita State and Evansville split doubleheader action on Saturday, as Shocker freshman pitcher Charlie Lowell took control of game one with a career-high eight inning performance, leading Wichita State to a 6-1 victory.  In game two, the Purple Aces pounded out 10 base hits en route to a 5-3 nightcap win over the Shockers.

In non-conference action, Southern Illinois lost both battles in doublehead action to visiting Jacksonville State.  The Salukis fell 8-5 in game one, and again 6-3 in game two.

Illinois State 8, Missouri State 7 (Game 1)
Missouri State 8, Illinois State 5 (Game 2) 

MSU (18-13, 6-1 MVC); ILS (15-10, 5-4 MVC)

Illinois State 8, Missouri State 7 (Game 1)

NORMAL, Ill. -- Illinois State used a walk-off single by Mike Stalowy in the bottom of the ninth to beat Missouri State, 8-7, in game one but couldn’t come up with any late inning heroics in an 8-5 loss to the Bears in game two of a doubleheader at Duffy Bass Field Saturday. 

Stalowy capped a career-best 5-for-5 performance with a single down the left field line to push Collin Salzenstein across for the game-winning run in the opener. The Redbirds (15-10, 5-4 MVC) scored two runs in the eighth inning of game two to cut Missouri State’s lead to one, but the Bears (18-13, 6-1 MVC) answered with two runs of their own in the ninth and a rally in the bottom half of the inning never materialized.

In the opening game, the Redbirds used Stalowy’s performance as part of a 14-hit onslaught to hand the Bears their first Missouri Valley Conference loss of the season. Salzenstein, Tyler McNeely, Anthony Ruffolo and Ryan Court all finished with two hits each, with McNeely and Court hitting solo home runs in the contest.

The Redbirds built a 4-0 lead after three innings but Missouri State tied the game up with a run in the fourth and three in the fifth, and took a 7-5 lead with three more runs in the seventh. McNeely homered to right in the seventh off Missouri State starter Tim Clubb to cut the lead to one and Court’s home run to left in the eighth tied the game going into the last inning.

Kyle Nelson struck out three in two scoreless innings of relief and earned his second win of the season after Stalowy’s single in the nith. Illinois State improved to 4-0 on Friday’s in Valley play thanks also to a workman-like effort from freshman starter Ryan Camp. Camp struck out six and was tagged with five earned runs on seven hits in seven innings. 

Missouri State 8, Illinois State 5 (Game 2) 

NORMAL, Ill. -- Buddy Baumann outdueled Ryan Copeland in a battle of two of The Valley’s top southpaws, improving to 7-0 with the win. Baumann struck out 11 over seven innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits, while Copeland fanned 10 over 7.1, but was tagged for six runs on seven hits.

The Bears opened game two much like the first game ended, stranding Conway at third base after he reached with one out, then committing two errors in the bottom of the first to fall behind 1-0.

Missouri State quickly grabbed the lead in the second after Playter tripled home Dallas Hord and Zak Swyhart with no outs. Playter then scored when the Redbirds opted to throw home on Travis McComack’s grounder to first for a 3-1 lead.

Copeland retired 12 Bears in a row after the first four batters reached in the rocky second, sitting MSU down in order until Brayden Drake led off the sixth with a single. Carlson followed with a single and Hord doubled in Drake to put two in scoring position with no outs and the Bears leading 4-1. Copeland retired the next two hitters, but tossed a wild pitch to let Carlson score easily from third and extend the MSU advantage to 5-1.

Baumann kept the Redbirds off the board until the sixth when Gabe DeMarco slapped a two-out, two-run double before ending the inning with his 10th strikeout of the game and a 5-3 lead.

The Bears wasted a leadoff triple the next inning with three straight strikeouts, but made good on Hord’s leadoff single in the eighth as the junior catcher scored on McComack’s grounder to shortstop for a 6-3 lead.

The insurance run was much-needed for the Bears as the Redbirds opened their half of the eighth with three straight singles. Two of those runners scored, and only a sliding catch by Playter in left kept the lead at 6-5 entering the ninth.

Missouri State matched the two Redbird runs in the top of the ninth. Conway drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Medrano’s single for the first run. A sacrifice, a hit batter and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners with two outs for Rogers, who hit a ground ball to shortstop that turned into an RBI fielder’s choice after Hord beat the throw to second.

Barnes, who came in with a three-run lead in the eighth before two inherited runners scored, was handed another three-run cushion at 8-5 in the ninth and worked around a one-out error for his third save of the year. Playter made a diving catch on the left field line for the final out.

Indiana State 9, Bradley 5 (Game 1)
Indiana State 10, Bradley 2 (Game 2)

INS (19-11, 6-3 MVC); BU (11-18, 0-6 MVC)

After Friday’s game was postponed due to cold and rainy conditions, the Indiana State baseball team played two games against Missouri Valley Conference foe Bradley on Saturday at Sycamore Field.  The Sycamores (19-11, 6-3 MVC) were strong at the plate all day and got some strong performances on the mound as the defeated the Braves (11-18, 0-6 MVC) in game one 9-5 and in game two 10-2 to pick up a sweep.

With the wins, ISU has now won five straight conference games for the first time since the 2000 season when they won five in a row against Northern Iowa and Evansville.

In game one, junior Eric Valdez pitched well enough to get the win as he gave up three earned runs on six hits in seven innings of work.  However, reliever Scott Harlan (2-1) was the winner as he finished the eighth inning giving up a run on a hit when the Sycamores came back to win the game.

The Sycamores took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a RBI double by Nick Ciolli, but the Braves quickly tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the second inning on a Jim Clayton sacrifice fly.  ISU then got the lead back in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to another big hit from Ciolli, who picked up a two-run single to put the cap on a three-run inning that made the score 4-1.

Bradley got one of those runs back in the top of the sixth inning to cut the lead to 4-2, but later took the lead at 5-4 in the top of the eighth inning with three runs.  Colby Luttrell tied the game with a two-run double and Clayton drove in the go-ahead run with a RBI ground out Luke Fieser at third base.

However, that lead would not be safe as the Sycamores answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning to make the score 9-5 in favor of ISU.  Bronco Lafrenz led off the inning with his team-leading sixth home run of the season to tie the game at 5-5. 

The Braves then picked up two outs, with Ryan Strausborger coming to the plate.  With his 12-game hitting streak in doubt, Strausborger popped up in foul territory but got new life when Clayton dropped the foul ball just wide of first base.  Strausborger then singled to extend his streak to 13 games and sparked a four-run, two out rally by the Sycamores that was capped off by a two-run single up the middle by Tyler Graham.

The game was made interesting in the top of the ninth inning, but senior Matt Shelton got himself out of a bases-loaded jam with a couple of big strikeouts to secure the victory for ISU.   Ciolli finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBI, while Graham added a couple of hits and RBI for ISU in the win in game one.

In game two, sophomore Jake Petricka (4-1) controlled the game from the mound as he allowed just one earned run on three hits while striking out three in eight strong innings for the Sycamores to earn his fourth victory of the year. 

The ISU offense gave Petricka an early cushion, with a run in the bottom of the first inning on a Ciolli RBI double that scored Strausborger.  The Sycamores then tacked on two runs in the bottom of the second inning to make the score 3-0 and added two more in the bottom of the third inning on a two-run single by Joe Meggs to make the score 5-0 after three innings of play.

Bradley picked up a run in the top of the fourth inning to make the score 5-1, but ISU answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to make the score 7-1.  A RBI double by Ben Ferrell in the bottom of the fifth inning then widened the ISU lead to 8-1.

The Sycamores pushed two more runs across the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning to make the score 10-1, before the Braves tacked on a run in the top of the ninth inning off ISU reliever Brendon Smith to bring the score to its final at 10-2.

Ciolli finished the game with a hit and three more RBI to give him six on the day, while Meggs and Burnam added two hits and two RBI each in the winning effort for the Sycamores.

The two teams will wrap up their three-game series on Sunday, with Joe Rodriguez (3-1) taking the mound for the Sycamores in search of the team’s second straight series sweep in Valley play.  First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST on Easter Sunday at Sycamore Field.

Northern Iowa 2, Creighton 0
UNI (14-17, 3-8 MVC); CU (16-16, 8-3 MVC) 

OMAHA, Neb. -- University of Northern Iowa junior Derek Ott threw 7.1 scoreless innings to help the Panther baseball team earn its first shut-out of the season, a 2-0 win over Creighton in Missouri Valley Conference play Saturday afternoon at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Ott (2-3) gave up four hits and tied a career high with six strikeouts on the way to earning the victory. Shuhei Fujiya threw1.2 hitless innings of relief for UNI (14-17, 3-8 MVC) to earn his sixth save of the year.

Brett Douglas was 3-of-4 from the plate with an RBI. Deric Manrique also collected a pair of hits, including a double, and Andy Steichen was 1-of-4 with an RBI double.

Jonas Dufek was charged with the loss for the Bluejays (16-16, 8-3 MVC) after giving up 10 hits and two runs in 6.1 innings of work. Elliot Soto led the Jays with a pair of hits, including a double.

Jeff Taliaferro hit a one-out double into left in the top of the fourth, and Cory Ege followed with a walk. Andy Steichen doubled into the corner in left to score Taliaferro and put runners on second and third with one out. Creighton retired the next two UNI batters to strand Ege and Steichen and keep the Panther lead at 1-0.

Chad Arp led off the top of the seventh with a pinch-hit bloop single into left. Deric Manrique followed with a double that landed just inside the foul line in right field. Gabe Schultz, who pinch ran for Arp, moved to third on the play. Creighton second baseman Vicente Cafaro tracked down a short fly ball from Grant Grgurich to record the first out of the inning. Brett Douglas grounded out to second, but Schultz scored on the play to extend UNI’s lead to 2-0.

Elliot Soto hit a one-out double into deep left in the bottom of the eighth. Shuhei Fujiya entered in relief, and he issued a full-count walk to Darin Ruf to put runners on first and second. Fujiya struck out Cafaro and got T.J. Roemmich to fly out to center to end the inning.

The Panthers were held scoreless in the top of the ninth, but Fujiya retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to secure the UNI victory.

UNI outhit the Bluejays 11-4, and the Panther stranded nine runners in the game. Creighton only had one runner advance to third in the game.

The win ties the series with the Jays at one game each. The teams will conclude the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the CU Sports Complex.

Wichita State 6, Evansville 1 (Game 1)
Evansville 5, Wichita State 3 (Game 2)

WSU (20-13, 5-2 MVC); UE (14-18, 4-8 MVC)

Wichita State 6, Evansville 1 (Game 1)

WICHITA, Kan. --
Tyler Grimes nearly hitting for the cycle combined with a career-high, eight-inning performance for starter Charlie Lowell propelled the Shocks to a 6-1 victory in game one of a doubleheader against Evansville on Saturday afternoon.

Four of the seven innings freshman Charlie Lowell (5-1) went down as 1-2-3 innings in the scorebook, as the lefty dealt a career-high eight innings on Saturday afternoon. A run in the first was all the freshman allowed, giving up four hits while striking out four. 

The Shocker bats brought plenty of power to back up their starting pitcher, raking 11 hits to the Aces’ four.Grimes led the offense, just a triple away from the cycle. The freshman shortstop went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI and his third homerun of the season.

Right-hander John Foley (3-2) also gave the Purple Aces an eight-inning outing, but couldn’t keep his defense from playing error-free. Three errors made just two of the Shockers’ six runs earned in the contest.

The Purple Aces struck first, jumping out to an early 1-0 lead in their first at bat. Evansville’s top of the order tagged Lowell for three singles in the inning, and right fielder Nate Smith’s speed helped him beat out a fielder’s choice to collect the RBI.

Wichita State used an unorthodox run to answer the Purple Aces in the Shockers’ half of the first. Junior second baseman Will Baez forced an error by the third baseman to lead off the inning. Grimes bashed a double to left center, sending Baez to third. When junior centerfielder Ryan Jones smoked a groundball to first, Grimes took off from second base. Seeing the opportunity, the first baseman Andy Pascoe caught Grimes in a rundown for the second out. In the meantime, Baez’s saw an opportunity of his own and took off from third to tie the game, 1-1.

Right fielder Mitch Caster started the afternoon hitting a commanding .417 in Missouri Valley Conference games, and stayed true to form in the bottom of the second. The sophomore belted an RBI single to left to give the Shockers the 2-1 lead. Caster went 2-for-4 in game one.

Lowell kept the Aces off the board, retiring 13 of 14 batters after the Aces scored in the first inning. By the end of the Aces’ fifth, Lowell had sat Evansville in order in three of the previous four innings. In the home half of the fifth, Grimes blasted a solo shot to add a run to the lead for Lowell to work with.

Grimes lent a helping hand to his pitcher again in the seventh. After Caster singled and Baez took advantage of another Aces’ error, Grimes drilled a single to left field. Unable to come up with it, the ball bounced towards the left field wall and allowed Caster and Baez time to score. A sacrifice fly from Jones scored Grimes to blow the game open in WSU’s favor, 6-1.

Junior Clint McKeever relieved Lowell in the ninth, throwing a scoreless, hitless inning to seal the deal.

Evansville 5, Wichita State 3 (Game 2)

WICHITA, Kan. -- After being held in check in a game-one loss to Wichita State on Saturday, the University of Evansville baseball team was the aggressor in game two, scoring three early runs and pounding out 10 base hits en route to a 5-3 victory in the nightcap of a Missouri Valley Conference doubleheader at Eck Stadium, home of Tyler Field, in Wichita, Kansas.

Senior lead-off man Jim Viscomi keyed the game-two victory, by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored.  Viscomi hit the first pitch of the game into right-center field, was quickly advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third, and came around to score on an infield ground out by sophomore designated hitter Greg Wallace to give UE an early 1-0 lead.

Evansville was then able to take advantage of a throwing error by Wichita State starter Jordan Cooper (5-3) on a sacrifice bunt attempt in the second inning to score two runs and take a 3-0 lead.  The Shockers would answer back with a single run in the bottom of the second and two more in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 3-3, but junior RHP Keegan Dennis and relievers J.R. Carbonell and Tom Heithoff would combine to shutout the Shockers the rest of the way, while more aggressive base running helped UE earn a doubleheader split.

UE took the lead for good in the fifth inning, on a one-out single by sophomore infielder Cody Fick, and a double by Wallace.  On the play, Wallace drew a wild throw from Wichita State’s left-fielder which skipped to the WSU dugout and allowed Fick to score all the way from first to give UE a 4-3 cushion.  Viscomi then manufactured another run in the seventh on a lead-off single, a stolen base which he advanced to third on thanks to another error by Wichita State, and a bunt base hit by Wallace with runners on the corners and no one out.

Dennis (1-2) earned the victory on the mound, yielding three runs on seven base hits, while striking out five men against no walks in 5.0-plus innings on the mound.  Carbonell and Heithoff then combined to toss 4.0 shutout innings of four-hit baseball, with Heithoff earning his fifth save of the year.

Wichita State won the opener of the doubleheader, 6-1, behind a strong outing by freshman left-hander Charlie Lowell (5-1), who held Evansville to just a first-inning run on four base hits in 8.0 innings of work.  He out-dueled senior RHP John Foley (3-2) for Evansville, who tossed a complete-game, but was victimized by three errors which led to four unearned runs.

On the doubleheader, Viscomi paced UE at the plate, going 5-for-8 with three runs scored and three stolen bases.  Wallace also had three hits in the two games, while driving in two.

With the split, Evansville improves its record to 14-18 overall and 4-8 in the MVC.  Wichita State, meanwhile, moves to 20-13 overall and 5-2 in the Valley on the season.  Evansville will return to action next on Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. as the Purple Aces will welcome Murray State to Braun Stadium for a non-conference contest.

Other Saturday Valley Baseball Action:

Jacksonville State 8, Southern Illinois 5 (Game 1)
Jacksonville State 6, Southern Illinios 3 (Game 2)